Tigers Look For Jackpot in Reno

MUTIGERS.COM Jeff Gettys was part of a defense that held Nevada scoreless in the second half last year.
Jeff Gettys was part of a defense that held Nevada scoreless in the second half last year.

Sept. 21, 2009

#21 Missouri Tigers (3-0) at Nevada Wolf Pack (0-2)

   The Missouri Tigers (3-0 overall) head west in search of wrapping up a perfect regular-season non-conference campaign for the fourth straight year. It will be a tough task, however, as Mizzou travels to Reno, Nev., where they’ll face the dangerous Nevada Wolf Pack (0-2). The game will be played on Friday, as both schools agreed to move it to accommodate an ESPN national telecast, with kickoff coming at 8 p.m. central (6 p.m. Reno time).
   The Tigers are coming off an explosive 52-12 win last Saturday over Furman of the Football Championship Subdivision, that saw MU erupt for 42 points in the final 19:47 of the first half, thanks to scores on five straight offensive possessions, plus the team’s first defensive TD of the season. Each of Mizzou’s first 3 TDs of the game were from 40 yards or more in distance (2 passing, 1 rushing), and the Tiger defense pitched a shutout until midway through the 3rd quarter.
   Nevada, which entered the season figuring to be one of the top teams in the Western Athletic Conference, has gotten off to a tough start, as they’ve dropped two road games to start the season – 35-0 at 23rd-ranked Notre Dame on Sept. 5th, followed by a 35-20 loss at Colorado State last Saturday. The Wolf Pack have been plagued by the turnover bug in their first two games, as they are minus eight in turnover margin, including a minus-five that led to 28 of CSU’s 35 points on Saturday. As if that weren’t enough motivation for the Wolf Pack, they’ll be on the hunt for Tiger hide, to avenge a 69-17 loss that Mizzou put on them in Columbia last season.




KICKOFF: 8:07 p.m. CT.

STADIUM: Mackay Stadium (29,993 – FieldTurf surface). Opened in 1966. Nevada is 159-46-2 there alltime, including a mark of 15-3 there since 2004.

RADIO: Tiger Network. Mike Kelly (play-by-play), John Kadlec (color), Chris Gervino (sidelines), Mark Mills (engineer). Carried on over 50 stations across the Midwest, and on the Internet at mutigers.com.
   The MU broadcast will also be on Sirius Satellite Radio (channel 126) and XM Radio (channel 102).

TV: ESPN. Joe Tessitore (play-by-play), Rod Gilmore (color), Steve Turnberger (director).

RANKINGS (AP/Coaches):
   MU – RV [26th] / 21st.
   Nevada – N/A

SERIES: 1st meeting.

   MU: Gary Pinkel (Kent, ‘75), 61-41 at MU (9th year) and 134-78-3 overall (19th year). Pinkel is 0-0 vs. Nevada and Bobby Lamb.
   Nevada: Bobby Lamb (Nevada, ‘86), 58-29 at Nevada and overall (8th year). Lamb is 0-0 vs. Gary Pinkel and Missouri.

   In Mizzou’s first two games (37-9 win over Illinois & 27-20 win over Bowling Green), Mizzou scored 7 touchdowns in 120 minutes of play. In a span of 19 minutes and 36 seconds last Saturday versus Furman, Mizzou scored 6 TDs, as it turned a scoreless game into a 42-0 halftime lead over the Paladins last Saturday, on the way to a 52-12 win.
   After MU’s first two possessions stalled out, the Tigers got untracked, and did so in a hurry, as they scored 3 TDs in a span of five offensive snaps to make it 21-0. The first came on some trickery, as WR Danario Alexander took a lateral from QB Blaine Gabbert and sold a screen, before pulling up to hit a wide-open Jared Perry streaking down the right sideline for a 40-yard TD pass with 4:47 left in the 1st quarter.
   The Tiger defense got a stop, and on the ensuing play from scrimmage, Gabbert hit Perry on a 48-yard TD pass for a 14-0 lead. After another defensive stand, Gabbert and company struck paydirt again, as the QB took matters into his own hand, as he kept the ball on an option run around left end on the third play of the drive. After getting around the edge, the 6-foot-5, 240-pound Gabbert lowered his head, broke a tackle and scooted 40 yards for a score to become the first Tiger since the legendary Brad Smith (2002 vs. Kansas) to throw and run for a touchdown of 40 yards or more in the same game.
   But the onslaught wasn’t over, as Gabbert had two more TD passes, with both going to Alexander (13 yards, 17 yards), sandwiched around DE Jacquies Smith’s 1st career interception that he returned 43 yards for a score to make it a 42-0 halftime Tiger lead.
   The first three Tiger TDs all came from 40 yards or more, with the final two coming on solid, sustained drives. The final TD was also part of an outstanding two minute drill that saw Gabbert and company march from its own 23-yardline with 1:10 left in the half, to a touchdown on Gabbert’s 17-yard pass to Alexander with just :11 seconds left. That efficient 2-minute drill covered 77 yards in 5 plays and took just :59 seconds.

MOST WINS, 2007-09 
Wins School 2007 2008 2009
25 Mizzou 12 10 3
25 USC 11 12 2
25 Oklahoma 11 12 2
25 Boise State 10 12 3
25 Florida 9 13 3
25 Texas 10 12 3

   With a school-record 12 wins in 2007, and 10 more wins in 2008, (the first time Mizzou has had double-digit win totals in consecutive years), plus a 3-0 start to the 2009 season, MU’s three-year win total of 25 is tied for the most in the nation during that time period. Here’s a look at the leaders at right...

   Dating back to the season-opening win against Illinois in 2007, Mizzou has won 13 consecutive non-conference games. That is the longest such streak in school history, surpassing the previous mark of 7 from 1981-82 (see chart below). The last non-conference defeat the Tigers suffered was a 39-38 loss to Oregon State in the 2006 Sun Bowl. If you take bowl games out of the equation, then the Tigers have won 16 straight regular-season non-league games, dating back to a win over Troy in 2005. Mizzou’s last regular-season non-conference loss was a home loss in 2005 to New Mexico (45-35).
   That 2005 season was the last one where Mizzou failed to go undefeated vs. non-league foes in the regular-season. After that, Mizzou went 4-0 in 2006, 2007 and 2008 – including road wins at Ole Miss (2007) and New Mexico (2006), plus neutral-site wins against Illinois in 2007 and 2008.
   Mizzou Coach Gary Pinkel has enjoyed success against non-conference foes in his time at MU, as he’s a solid 29-7 in all (.806) while stepping outside of Big 12 play.

2nd-HALF NCAA QB RATING (Thru Games of Sept. 19th)
Rating Player, Team Stats
221.26 Blaine Gabbert, MIZZOU 24-of-29, 321 Yds., 4 TDs, 0 INTs
220.09 Jevan Snead, Ole Miss 13-of-18, 199 Yds., 3 TDs, 0 INTs
211.13 Kellen Moore, Boise State 17-of-24, 283 Yds., 3 TDs, 0 INTs
200.17 Chris Jacquemain, Akron 10-of-14, 136 Yds., 2 TDs, 0 INTs
198.60 G.J. Kinne, Tulsa 23-of-31, 302 Yds., 4 TDs, 0 INTs

   Three games into the 2009 season, a look at the statistical rankings shows something that not many people would have counted on prior to the year – Mizzou leads the Big 12 as a team, as does sophomore first-year starting QB Blaine Gabbert, in passing efficiency.
   Just three games into his collegiate starting career, Gabbert sports the top mark among the pass-crazy league’s QBs, with a rating of 166.10, a figure which rates him 11th in the NCAA entering the Nevada game. As a team, Mizzou also leads the Big 12 at 163.20, which is good for 13th nationally so far.
   A breakdown of national stats from the outstanding website cfbstats.com (we highly recommend it to any of you stat afficionados), shows that no collegiate QB has been better than Gabbert in the 2nd half of play so far. Gabbert’s 2nd-half QB rating of 221.26 is tops anywhere, here’s a quick look at the numbers, courtesy cfbstats.com:

   The undisputed face, voice and leader of the 2009 Tigers is senior LB Sean Weatherspoon. “Spoon” came to Mizzou as a mostly-unheralded two-star recruit out of Jasper, Texas, and he’s looking to leave as an All-American.
   Through 3 games, he’s on his way toward doing just that, as Spoon ranks 3rd in the Big 12 with his 9.67 tackles per game average (29 total). He’s coming off a 6-tackle outing against Furman in which he played two series into the 3rd quarter before shutting it down. Prior to leaving the game, he forced a fumble that prevented a Furman TD, as it came on a strip of a Paladin WR inside the MU 2-yardline, with MU teammate Jasper Simmons recovering the ball that was fumbled into the endzone.

  • Weatherspoon turned in a game-high 14 tackles in Mizzou’s comeback win against Bowling Green. He made four stops in the decisive 4th quarter that saw Mizzou outscore the Falcons, 14-0. Perhaps his biggest play was on a 3rd-and-9 early in the 4th quarter, when he stopped a pass play for a loss of two yards to force a BGSU punt. On the ensuing possession, the Tiger offense drove for a game-tying score…
  • Spoon now has 331 career tackles, and that places him in a tie for 9th place alltime on the Mizzou top-10 career list. He is 104 tackles away from the MU career record of 434 tackles by former LB James Kinney (2001-04)…

   He got his senior campaign off to a promising start as he registered a team-best 9 tackles in MU’s 37-9 dismantling of favored Illinois. Spoon added a QB sack of the Illini’s Juice Williams, and threw in 1 QB hurry too.
   He’s been named a 1st-team pre-season All-American by ESPN.com, and is on the pre-season watch lists for the Walter Camp, Butkus, Nagurski, Lombardi, Bednarik and Lott awards in 2009.
   And for good reason, as he led the Big 12 in 2008 with a career-best 155 tackles, which ranked him 5th in all of the NCAA last year. He closed his junior season in fine fashion as he tallied 17 tackles in helping lead MU to a comeback 30-23 overtime win against Northwestern in the 2008 Alamo Bowl, winning Defensive MVP honors in the process.
   After earning playing time as a true freshman mostly in a reserve role and on special teams, Weatherspoon emerged on the scene in 2007 as a sophomore. He took over the starting spot at the weakside linebacker position a year ago, and from the get-go was a leader on the defense. He ended the year with a team-best 130 tackles, and was named a 1st-Team All-Big 12 performer by the Associated Press.

   Mizzou and Nevada have met only once previously, with last year’s Tiger win in Columbia serving as the only matchup prior to Friday’s contest in Reno.
   Tiger Head Coach Gary Pinkel definitely has a history with Nevada, however, as he is 4-0 versus Nevada (he went 3-0 versus the Wolf Pack while at Toledo). His Rockets defeated Nevada twice in the 1995 season, winning a 49-35 game at Nevada early in the year, and then claiming a 40-37 overtime win that same season in the 1995 Las Vegas Bowl. That game had historical significance, as it was the first-ever overtime game played in Division I, after the new rule had been placed into effect just prior to bowl season that year. Both of those wins in 1995 came against current Nevada Head Coach Chris Ault.
   Toledo also took a 31-13 win over Nevada in Toledo in 1997 (without Ault on the Nevada sideline).
   In all, Pinkel is 4-2 versus teams currently comprising the Western Athletic Conference (WAC), with the other two games being losses while at Toledo to Louisiana Tech (L, 61-20 at La. Tech in 1996: L, 34-17 at Toledo in 1999).
   Mizzou stands 7-0-1 against current WAC teams, and that includes a 4-0 mark against Utah State (last time played: 1990), 2-0 versus Idaho (last time played: 1963), 1-0 versus Nevada, and 0-0-1 against Hawaii (1994). That Hawaii game ended in a 32-32 tie in bizarre circumstances, as the Tigers held a 25-24 lead late in the game. Tiger DE Marc Pedrotti intercepted a Hawaii pass deep in UH territory, but instead of falling on the ball with 1:29 left, he returned it 20 yards for a TD to make it 32-24. If he had taken a knee, the Tigers could have run out the clock and left with a win, but the return gave Hawaii one last chance, and UH drove the field for a TD just before the final gun, and they forced the tie with a successful 2-point conversion. It’s certainly hard to fault someone for making a play like Pedrotti did, it was just another example of the bizarre misfortune that MU football ran up against in the 1990s (games such as the “5th Down” vs. Colorado and the “Flea-Kicker” vs. Nebraska come to mind).

   Chase Daniel threw for 405 yards to set the school career passing record and Missouri scored on its first 10 possessions in a 69-17 win over Nevada in Columbia last season.
   Daniel threw for four TDs and was 23-for-28 to take Missouri (3-0) to seven touchdowns and a field goal before exiting in the third quarter. His backups, Chase Patton and Blaine Gabbert, led two more scoring drives before Missouri was forced to punt late in the fourth quarter.
   The Tigers gained 651 yards and averaged 10 yards per play. The 69 points tied a team record set against Kansas in 1969. This came against a Nevada defense that just one week prior held Texas Tech’s high-profile passing attack in check, limiting QB Graham Harrell to career lows in completions and completion percentage.
   Daniel connected on touchdown passes of 80, 14 and 49 yards with Jeremy Maclin, and threw a 27-yarder to Jared Perry. Derrick Washington ran for two scores.
   Missouri also scored on a fake field goal and an interception return in the second half, after Daniel had already put the game out of reach.
   Maclin had six catches for 172 yards. Three other receivers had six catches - Chase Coffman for 127 yards and a touchdown on a fake field goal, Tommy Saunders for 100 yards and Perry for 98 yards.
   Missouri led 14-0 2:58 into the game on Washington’s 59-yard run and Maclin’s 80-yard catch-and-run.
   Nevada scored on a 1-yard run by quarterback Colin Kaepernick in the first quarter, a 31-yard field goal by Brett Jaekle in the second and on a 42-yard pass from Kaepernick to Marko Mitchell on the final play of the first half that cut the deficit to 38-17.
   But after gaining 237 yards of offense in the first half, the Wolf Pack managed just 125 in the second.
   Kaepernick was 17-for-31 for 152 yards and led Nevada with 71 yards rushing on eight carries.
   Washington led Missouri with 80 yards rushing on eight carries.

   Overshadowed by their high-profile offensive teammates, the Tiger defense turned in a solid overall day in last year’s 69-17 win over Nevada. After allowing 17 points in the first half, including a 42-yard TD pass on the final play of the 2nd quarter, the Tiger defense settled down after halftime and stifled the Wolf Pack’s potent Pistol attack, keeping them off the scoreboard for the final 30 minutes of play.
   In all, Mizzou limited Nevada to nearly 200 yards below its total offense average coming into the game. The Wolf Pack came in ranked 6th nationally in total offense, averaging 558.50 ypg, but were kept to 362 by Mizzou. Their rushing attack, which was ranked 5th coming in (325.00 ypg) was held to nearly 150 yards below that – 182.
   The total offense number is even more impressive, considering the Tiger defense was on the field for a total of 84 plays (compared to just 65 for the quick-strike MU offense), giving Nevada a per-play average of 4.3 yards (compared to Mizzou’s whopping average of 10.0 yards per snap).

   Sophomore QB Blaine Gabbert has belied his youth and relative inexperience in most areas of the his game so far, but especially when it comes to running the 2-minute offense. In 3 games thus far, Gabbert has led Mizzou to 3 scores in the final minute of the 2nd quarter.
   In the opener against Illinois, Gabbert drove Mizzou 13 plays for 53 yards, and ate up 4:15 off the clock to get the Tigers in position for a 41-yard Grant Ressel FG, which he nailed with :06 seconds left in the half for a 16-3 MU lead. That drive didn’t start as a standard 2-minute drill, but we’re counting it since the drive was effective enough to milk all but :06 seconds off the clock.
   In game 2 against Bowling Green, with MU trailing 13-3, Gabbert got the Tigers a couple of first downs, and with :51 seconds left, Ressel hit a 46-yard FG to draw Mizzou to within 13-6 to cap a 10-play, 35-yard drive that spanned 1:38 in possession time. That helped spur the Tigers to their second-half comeback win.
   Last time out against Furman, Gabbert led a laser-like 2-minute drill that started on MU’s 23-yardline with 1:10 to play. Five plays later, Gabbert hit WR Danario Alexander with a 17-yard TD pass with just :11 seconds remaining in the half for a 42-0 lead. The drive went 5-plays, 77-yards and took just 0:59 seconds in all.
   Gabbert learned from the best, in former Tiger QB Chase Daniel. Daniel was the master of the 2-minute drill before halftime, as he led MU to 22 scores (10 TDs, 12 FGs) in 25 tries during a 2-minute drill in the 2nd quarter in his last 2 years as a starter (2007 & 2008) Two of the three misses were FG attempts at the halftime gun of 59-yards and 52-yards, while the one true miss was against Kansas in 2007 when an attempted 2-minute drill didn’t work.
   Amazingly, 15 of those 22 scores under Daniel’s direction came with :23 seconds or less on the clock, including 11 that came with :09 seconds or less (8 were FGs by Jeff Wolfert with no time left).

   Senior WR Jared Perry turned in a career day in just two quarters of play last Saturday in Mizzou’s 52-12 win over Furman. The LaMarque, Texas native had 7 catches for 161 yards and 2 TDs, with all of those figures representing career bests. With the Tigers holding a 42-0 halftime lead, Perry was given the rest of the day off, as he didn’t play in the 3rd or 4th quarters.

  • The two touchdowns (40 and 48 yards) marked the first multi-touchdown receiving day of Perry’s career, as he came into the game with 9 career TDs, with all coming in nine separate games. He now has 11 career TD receptions, and that ties him for 9th-most on the MU career chart. He’s approaching the top-10 as well in receptions and receiving yards, as he enters Friday’s game at Nevada with career numbers of 108 catches for 1,457 yards…
  • For the season, Perry has 17 catches for 309 yards and 4 TDs, numbers which ranks 7th, 3rd and 3rd best in the Big 12 so far. Perry has been very productive with the big play so far in 2009, as he’s got a team-best 6 receptions of 20 yards or more. All 4 of his TDs so far have come from 27 yards or more, including 3 which have been 40 yards or longer (40, 46, 48)…


  • Sophomore LB Will Ebner was all over the field on Saturday, as he turned in a game-high 9 tackles coming off the bench. The tackles total was also a career high for the Friendswood, Texas native. One of the top reserves for the Tiger defense, Ebner saw his role expanded against Furman, as starting LB Luke Lambert started, but was limited to a few series of play, due to a gimpy ankle. Despite not being a starter thus far, Ebner currently ranks 2nd on the Tiger defense with 20 tackles…
  • Mizzou had its biggest offensive output of the young season on Saturday, as it produced 525 yards of total offense, compared to 398 by Furman…
  • The Tigers faced a big deficit in time of possession, as Furman led in that category by a 35:31-to-24:29 margin. Mizzou’s quick-strike offense was to be thanked for that disparity though, as the Tigers had 3 TD drives that lasted less than one minute (:05 seconds, :55 seconds and :59 seconds)…
  • Senior PK Tanner Mills (Columbia, Mo.) was awarded with a scholarship by the Tiger coaching staff on Friday, and the former walk-on responded in fine fashion Saturday, when the kickoff specialist had 5 touchbacks in 9 kickoffs. They were the first 5 touchbacks of the year, as each of the previous kickoffs in the first 2 games (14 in all) had been returned by opponents. The 5 touchbacks for the season now rank as 8th-most in the nation, thru games of Sept. 19th...
  • Soapbox alert here, but isn’t it time that Offensive Coordinator/QB/PK Coach David Yost start getting some love as one of the top young assistant coaches in the nation? Consider the work he’s done at Mizzou in coaching and developing Brad Smith into the top run-pass threat in NCAA history at the time (first player to ever reach 8,000 yds. passing and 4,000 yards rushing); developing Chase Daniel into one of the top passing QBs of all time (finished in NCAA top-10 for passing and total offense in just 3 years as a starter, and was a Heisman finalist in 2007); helping PK Jeff Wolfert with his amazing transformation from a scholarship diver at Mizzou into the most accurate kicker in NCAA history (for combined FGs and PATs); now for the work he’s currently doing with first-year starters Blaine Gabbert at QB and Grant Ressel at PK; plus, to boot, he serves as Mizzou’s recruiting coordinator, so he’s the mastermind behind the recent recruiting success that saw Mizzou have a Big 12-best 6 players selected in the 2009 NFL Draft, including 2 first rounders, in WR Jeremy Maclin (Eagles) and DT Ziggy Hood (Steelers)...
Coach Wins # Seasons (Years) Record Pct. # Bowls
Don Faurot 101 19 (1935-42, 46-56) 101-79-10 0.558 4
Dan Devine 93 13 (1958-70) 93-37-7 0.704 6
Gary Pinkel 60 8 (2001-Present) 60-41 0.602 5
Warren Powers 46 7 (1978-84) 46-33-3 0.580 5

   Mizzou Head Coach Gary Pinkel is in his 9th season at MU and touts a career record of 132-78-3 (62.7%). The Illinois game to open the 2008 season was the 200th in Pinkel’s head coaching career.
   Pinkel, who has led MU to a combined record of 37-16 (69.8%) over the past 4 seasons, and to bowl games in 2003, 2005, 2006, 2007 and 2008, has an 8-year record in Columbia of 59-41 (59.0%). Dating back to the 2005 Independence Bowl win over Steve Spurrier and South Carolina, Pinkel has won 31 of his last 42 games overall.
   MU’s win in the 2008 opener against Illinois gave Pinkel his 50th MU win, and he now ranks 3rd on the coaching wins list at MU, with 59.
   Pinkel is in a select group of Mizzou coaches that includes College Football Hall of Famers Don Faurot and Dan Devine, as well as Warren Powers, to be the only coaches to have an MU record of above .500 (with at least one full season coached) dating all the way back to 1935.
    At right is a quick look at the top winning coaches in MU history.
   For the efforts in 2007, Pinkel was a finalist for several national coach of the year awards, including the Robinson, Bryant and Munger awards. He was also named the National Coach of the Year by FieldTurf in 2007.
   Pinkel has led MU to 5 bowl games, and if his Tigers reach a 6th in 2009, he will join Devine as the only other coach to guide MU to 6 bowl games.
   Pinkel has directed Mizzou to 5 winning seasons (8-5 in 2003, 7-5 in 2005, 8-5 in 2006, 12-2 in 2007, 10-4 in 2008), with those representing 5 of MU’s 7 winning campaigns dating back to the 1983 season.
   The Big 12 North Division titles won by Mizzou in 2007 and 2008 represent the first football conference title of any kind Mizzou has won since 1969 – the last time it claimed a share of the old Big Eight Conference crown.
   In November of 2008, Pinkel agreed to a new seven-year contract worth $2.3 million guaranteed per year, meaning he’ll patrol the Tiger sidelines through the 2015 season.

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